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Intel Matrix RAID

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Title: Intel Matrix RAID  
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Intel Matrix RAID

Diagram of a Matrix RAID setup

Matrix RAID is a computer storage technology marketed by Intel. It is a firmware RAID system, rather than hardware RAID or software RAID.

Matrix RAID first appeared in the ICH6R "southbridge" chip. Intel uses an 'R' at the end of the southbridge's name – ICH9R instead of ICH9 – to indicate when a southbridge contains their Matrix RAID technology and no other upgrades. Complicating the matter is that instead of "R," a "DO," "DH," etc. has indicated a southbridge that combined RAID with non-RAID-related upgrades to the southbridge. Newer chipsets which don't use a separate southbridge might also use Intel RST without explicit extensions like "R" within the chipset name, an example for this is the Intel PCH C200 chipset series. Like all RAID, Intel Matrix RAID employs two or more physical hard disks which the operating system will treat as a single disk, in order to increase redundancy which avoids data loss (as all RAID levels except RAID 0 do), and/or to increase the speed at which data is written to and/or read from a disk.

Intel Matrix RAID is not a new RAID level. One of the features that Intel Matrix RAID has, which many other RAID implementations lack, is that different areas (e.g. partitions or logical volumes) on the same disk can be assigned to different RAID devices. The ICH10R supports standard RAID levels RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10, and RAID 5.[1]

Intel recommends to put any critical applications and data on a RAID 1, 5, or 10 volume. The thinking being that protection from losing the user's personal data and the OS and program configuration settings is more important than having the pure performance (speed) increase of RAID 0. On the other hand, the RAID 0 volume in Matrix RAID is recommended mostly for working with large files, such as videos during editing, and for non-critical files where fast storage will increase performance (swap files, for example, or read-only files that are backed-up on a separate PC).

Intel Matrix RAID, along with Intel Rapid RAID and Intel Smart Response Technology, are features of Intel Rapid Storage Technology.[2]

Operating system support

Linux supports Matrix RAID through device mapper (DM-RAID) for RAID 0, 1 and 10, and Linux MD RAID for RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5. DM-RAID does not provide a graphical utility to configure the arrays or notify the user of disk errors/failures, and will not activate the Intel Matrix RAID on many motherboards (due to incompatibilities). Set up of the RAID volumes must be done by using the ROM option in the Matrix Storage Manager, then further configuration can be done in DM-RAID or MD-RAID.[3]

FreeBSD and MidnightBSD support Intel Matrix RAID using the ataraid driver, managed through the atacontrol command.[4][5] However, with older versions of FreeBSD there are critical reliability issues which include array device renaming when a disk in an array is replaced,[6] an array being considered healthy if the machine reboot/crashes during an array rebuild,[7] and kernel panics when a disk is lost or is removed from the bus.[8][9] Some of these problems, when experienced in combination, could result in the loss of an entire array (even in the case of RAID 1).

Microsoft Windows has full support for Intel Matrix RAID, including creation of RAID volumes.

VMware ESXi 4 does not support any RAID function nor Intel Matrix RAID based on Intel ICHxR controllers.[10]

PGPDisk does not support Intel Matrix RAID based on Intel ICHxR, and does not support standalone drives if the "RAID" mode is enabled on the motherboard.

Matrix Storage Manager option ROM

The Intel Matrix Storage Manager (IMSM) option ROM is a part of Matrix RAID that has to be used in the BIOS to create new RAID arrays.[11] As of 2014 Intel uses "Rapid Storage Technology" -"Option Rom"- on its new chipsets, dropping the "Matrix" name.[12][13] An Intel document notes that Matrix RAID storage changed to RST (Rapid Storage Technology).[14]

There are several versions available:
Version Release date Notes
v3.0.0 2003
v6.0.0 2006 Included on P965 chipsets with ICH8R southbridge
v7.8.0 2007
v8.0.0 2008 Standard on Intel X58-based motherboards.
v8.9.0 2009
v9.6.0 2010
v10.1.0 2011 Last version to support ICH8
v10.5.0 2011 Standard on Intel Z68-based motherboards. This version is the first to support RAID arrays made of HDDs with over 2.2 TB.[15]
Physical disks >= 2TB are not supported on controllers older than ICH9.[16]
v10.6.0 June 2011
v10.8.0 November 2011 Last version to support ICH9
v11.0.0 February 2012
v11.2.0 June 2012 [17] 11.2 which offers TRIM support on RAID 0 compatible with Windows 7 on Intel 7 series chipsets (earlier chipsets are orphaned).
v11.6.0 September 2012 [18]
v11.7.0 November 2012 Last version to support ICH7R and ICH7M, ICH9M, ICH10R and ICH10D
v12.0.0.1783 February 2013
v12.5.0.1815 March 2013
v12.6.0.1867 March 2013
v12.7.0.1910 June 2013 This option ROM version is the last version for the X79 chipset, Intel has updated to a 13 series, but no function on X79.
v12.7.0.1936 July 2013 This version is installed on some Intel C226 Chipset-based motherboards (e.g. Asus P9D WS).
v12.8.0.1016 August 2013
v12.9.0.1001 December 2013 Last version to support PCH 5 and PCH 6 series, Last version to support ICH10R (RAID Mode)
v13.1.0.2030 August 2013 This version is designed for the new 8 series chipset. This can be injected into a X79 chipset with modification.
v13.1.0.1058 May 2014
v13.2.4.1000 August 2014

Since release, TRIM commands can be read by the RAID controller in 7 series chipsets. There is no TRIM support in older chipsets.[19]

Intel states that RST support has been added for the X79 chipset in RST version and after. Contained in the RST Production Version Release Notes, contained here.[20]

On some 6 series chipsets there is a modification which will add a modded ROM to the BIOS which will allow TRIM support on the 6 series chipset, contained here.[21]

For the X79 chipset, certain motherboard manufacturers have added both RAID ROM's in the BIOS, the RST and RST-E ROM. X79 is the Enterprise version, called RST-E. With the RST ROM added to the BIOS, this allows TRIM function to pass through the controller and TRIM SSD drives. As there is no support for TRIM with the RST-E version of the ROM. If the motherboard manufacturer has not added the RST ROM to your BIOS, you can mod the BIOS with a modified ROM for the X79, that only contains the RST-E ROM.[21]

The newest Option ROM version is a 13 series ROM, this ROM will not be used by motherboard manufacturers for the X79 chipset BIOS, and it can be injected into a BIOS to use on the X79 with modded code, for those MFG's who have added a ROM switch, this is where the MFG has added both RST and RSTe to the RAID option of a BIOS, but there needs to be a code added for TRIM commands to be sent, when you inject the RST and replace the RSTe with RST option ROM in X79 boards that do not contain the ROM switch, TRIM can be dysfunctional.

There are modded RST 13 series Option ROMs (legacy) available at certain BIOS modding sites that have been made functional for use in the X79 chipsets.

When booting in a BIOS environment (legacy) and some / EFI, the RST option ROM is used. When booting in a true UEFI environment the Option ROM is not used as a SataDriver with the RST version takes over. In BIOS mode the legacy/BIOS booting is under CSMCORE. In true UEFI mode the RST is controlled under SataDriver in BIOS.

New note, Intel has added TRIM support for its newest RST-E enterprise RAID, starting with version and future versions. Waiting on the RSTe release note to be released so they can be referenced here.

The Intel RAID ROM is the firmware in the motherboard BIOS that is used to create the RAID array.

Note: The RST drivers can be used for RAID and also on a single drive as it contains an AHCI driver. There is a bug in the version RST driver, which cause TRIM commands not to pass through the controller to the drives. TRIM is disabled using this driver.

See also


  1. ^ "Intel Matrix Storage Technology". Intel website. Retrieved November 5, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Getting Started", Intel Rapid Storage Technology Help,  
  3. ^ "Linux support for Intel RAID controller hubs". Intel website. Retrieved November 5, 2011. 
  4. ^ "ataraid -- ATA software RAID support". FreeBSD manual. February 17, 2006. Retrieved November 5, 2011. 
  5. ^ Soren Schmidt (February 21, 2009). "ATA device driver control program". FreeBSD manual. Retrieved November 5, 2011. 
  6. ^ "kern/121899: [ar] [patch] Drive detached from Intel Matrix RAID and returned comes up as entirely new ataraid". Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  7. ^ "kern/102210: [ar] [patch] reboot system makes rebuilding array ready (ICH7)". Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  8. ^ "kern/102211: [ar] [patch] detach raid member and reboot will cause panic (ICH7)". Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  9. ^ "kern/108924: [ar] Panics when Intel MatrixRAID RAID1 is degraded". Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  10. ^ "RAID-5 ON VMWARE ESXI | VMware Communities". Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  11. ^ "Intel Matrix Storage Technology". Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  12. ^ Author: Allyn Malventano (2011-05-11). "Intel Smart Response Technology: SSD Caching on Z68 Tested | Boot Option ROM / Boot Performance". Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  13. ^ "Intel® Rapid Storage Technology (Intel® RST) — System requirements". Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  14. ^ "Server Products — Comparison of Intel® ESRT2 and Intel® RST (Matrix) RAID". 2012-08-16. Retrieved 2014-05-14. Intel® Rapid Storage Technology (formerly Intel® Matrix RAID) is a firmware RAID that provides levels of protection, performance, and expandability. 
  15. ^ "RAID array with 3TB disks". Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  16. ^ "RAID array with 3TB disks". Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  17. ^ "The file that you are trying to". Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  18. ^ "The file that you are trying to". Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  19. ^ Doug Crowthers. "TRIM Command Confirmed With RAID 0 on Intel 7 Series". Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  20. ^ "The file that you are trying to". Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  21. ^ a b "TRANSIT-Informationsseite:". 2007-02-11. Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  • Ben Freeman (May 7, 2004). "Storage Basics: Choosing a RAID Controller". Enterprise Storage 

This article is based on material taken from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing prior to 1 November 2008 and incorporated under the "relicensing" terms of the GFDL, version 1.3 or later.

External links

  • "Intel Rapid Storage Technology". Support download website. Retrieved November 5, 2011. 
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